Harry Potter - Series Fan Fiction ❯ Harry Potter and the Werewolf Prophecy ❯ I’M GOING BACK TO HOGWARTS ( Chapter 13 )
Harry awoke late the next morning, having, in spite of his worries about Ginny and Molly, slept very soundly. He hadn’t dreamed at all. He yawned, stood up, and walked into the little bathroom. There was a large, ornate mirror over the sink, and Harry stared into it, opening his mouth and rubbing his teeth. He gave a yell and jumped back when he saw Professor McGonagall looking back at him.
“Ah, Potter, good morning. I hope you slept well. Oh, you didn’t know about the mirrors? Don’t worry, they only display us when we’re decent. I’ll collect you for breakfast in the Great Hall in twenty minutes, if that’s quite all right,” said McGonagall, her voice sounding slightly tinny.
“Er… um… of course,” said Harry, completely nonplussed. He’d been at Hogwarts for six years, and had thought he knew the place very well, but clearly the life of a Professor was quite different to that of a student. They could talk through mirrors? Well, they would need some way to keep in touch.
He was barely washed and dressed when he heard McGonagall calling from the foot of the staircase. “Are you ready, Potter? I can come back later.”
“Down in a sec, Professor,” he called, casting a Doubleknot charm on his shoelaces.
He scampered down the stairs, feeling oddly out of place, and yet entirely at home. He was a Professor now, a member of the Hogwarts staff, even if there were no pupils at the school for several weeks. How would he manage it? Harry tried to visualise himself standing in front of a class, but he couldn’t.
McGonagall was striding out again, down corridors and up staircases that seemed vaguely familiar to Harry, but which he was fairly sure he’d never seen before. “Take careful note, Potter,” said McGonagall. “I can’t show you around every day.”
Harry felt in his pocket for the familiar shape of the Marauder’s Map. He was fairly confident that he wouldn’t get lost in Hogwarts.
“Er, Professor,” he said, scurrying. “I wonder – this has all been a bit sudden, and I really need to talk to Gin…”
“Of course, Potter!” exclaimed McGonagall. “That’s only natural. I’ll arrange for you to talk to anyone you wish after breakfast.”
“Thanks, Professor,” said Harry. “You see, because Ginny and I are…”
“Potter!” exclaimed McGonagall. “I am afraid that there are certain matters relating to your personal life which it might be better that we did not discuss.”
Harry stared at her, totally confused. “Like what?” he eventually asked.
She avoided his gaze. “I would rather not say. Indeed, I cannot say. I might hint that it relates to something which you were about to say… about somebody… and it is better, for both of us, that we don’t discuss it. That is, if you are to be a Professor at Hogwarts.”
“Um… I see,” said Harry, not seeing at all. “I won’t mention it then. Only… I do need to talk to…”
“…someone at the Weasley’s, perhaps? You’ve been staying with them. Of course. Molly, or if she’s out… one of the others.”
“That will be fine,” said Harry. Was McGonagall mad? Why didn’t she want him to talk about Ginny? Ginny was nothing to do with her any more.
“We’ll have to crouch down here, Potter. There you go, just turn sideways. And here we are,” said McGonagall as they squeezed through a gap a little over a foot wide.
It was the Great Hall. The last time Harry had seen it, it had been a pitiful sight. Fred Weasley and many others were lying there, dead and injured. They’d had a triumph, but there was too much sadness to cherish the victory. Now, while he still mourned, he could feel the lifting of the burden that had been on him for so many years. Here he was, in the Hall that had been his introduction to Hogwarts, the place where he had been picked for Gryffindor, where he’d feasted with his friends - and enemies – where the whole school, except a handful of Slytherins, had stood up for him against Voldemort.
It was as it had been back when he’d first arrived. There was no sign of any damage. The roof showed a clear blue sky. The tables were neatly in rows, though empty. McGonagall came up behind Harry as he was staring at it, his mouth open.
“We couldn’t fix the whole building. There’s still massive damage. This, though – this is the heart of Hogwarts. When the new students arrive – they have to see this as it should be.” She patted him on the shoulder. “Come and sit down, Potter. Professor Potter.”
She led him to the table, with the familiar faces of the Hogwarts staff. As he approached, several of them turned their heads and murmured to each other. Flitwick stood on his chair and gave Harry a huge, beaming grin.
McGonagall ushered Harry to a place next to her seat. It was where Dumbledore used to sit, though it wasn’t his chair. She waited for Harry to sit down, and then tapped twice on a glass with a spoon.
“Ahem. Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen. As you know, we have not had a Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher for a year now. I am pleased to say that the post has now been filled – by Professor Harry Potter.”
McGonagall was unable to continue as her voice was drowned out in a wave of clapping and applause. The various teachers crowded around, and reached across the table to shake Harry’s hand.
“An excellent choice! An excellent choice!” squeaked Flitwick.
“I knew this would happen, Potter,” said Sybil Trelawney, her voice triumphant. “It was in the leaves, in the crystal. The horse wouldn’t see such things, of course. He lacks the true sight.”
Professor Slughorn elbowed his way through the crowd and grasped Harry’s hand. “I recognised something in you, Harry,” he boomed, “a quality that many would miss. I am not surprised, no, I am not surprised.”
Everyone seemed to be there, thought Harry. All of them, even Professor Trelawney, who rarely ventured from the North Tower. Except – Madame Hooch? And Hagrid, of course, but Hagrid never took breakfast in the Great Hall, even after he had joined the staff. He continued to prefer stews made with food he’d gathered, killed or grown. (Or sometimes, Harry suspected, found).
Harry found himself sitting among the professors, having breakfast – something that up until a few hours ago, he could never have imagined happening. He felt completely out of place, and kept waiting for one of them to reprimand him and send him down to the Gryffindor table.
The food was just like what he’d had as a student. The atmosphere was no different either – each of the teachers talking, eating, arguing and laughing. Had they been like this when he’d watched them, up on the dais while he ate down in the Hall? He supposed they must have been. He’d always been too busy to notice. There did seem a greater ease among them. Perhaps it was what they had been through together.
They seemed to accept him totally. Wasn’t it strange to have somebody who’d been a pupil only a short while before, suddenly become a Professor? Then he thought about it. Weren’t most of the Professors former Hogwarts students? Lupin and Snape had been in the same year, and became firm enemies. It must have seemed just as odd for them, suddenly finding themselves at the other end of the classroom – sitting at this table, as colleagues.
Harry suddenly noticed that Professor Slughorn was asking him something about lesson plans. “Er… actually, I have no idea what I’ll be teaching,” he confessed. There was a sudden silence.
He felt compelled to explain. “It’s just that… this was sort of unexpected. I was …”. He looked for the right word.
“Railroaded, Professor?” said McGonagall wryly.
“No, no!” said Harry, smiling. “But it was just a bit… sudden.”
“Didn’t expect to be teaching, eh?” said Slughorn jovially. “My dear boy, feel free to call on me. The first year is always the most difficult, but after that it’s a matter of routine. I’ll show you how I prepare for potions, and you can see what works for you.”
“Just remember – they’re more frightened of you that you are of them,” squeaked Flitwick, and everyone laughed.
“I have the details of the curriculum, Professor,” said McGonagall. “It gives a rough outline of what each year is expected to learn. I’m sure you’ll have no problem with any of it.”
“Somebody told me that you had your own classes hidden away in the Room of Requirements, back when that Umbridge woman was here,” said Slughorn. “What did you call it?”
“Dumbledore’s Army!” said Flitwick triumphantly. “We saw how well they did when they really needed their training. You’ll be a very good teacher, Potter, very good.”
Would he, thought Harry? It was one thing teaching a group of students who wanted to learn how to fight evil wizards. It was quite another to get whole classes through their OWLS and NEWTS. He would have to do a lot of reading before he’d be ready for his first class.
Breakfast was soon over, and the professors dispersed, talking animatedly. Clearly Harry’s appointment was as much of a surprise to them as it was to him. Harry took a last bite of toast and stood up.
“Well, I think we can arrange for you to contact the Weasleys now, Potter,” said Professor McGonagall. “Perhaps the Gryffindor Common Room would be best. I find that the fireplaces in the various classrooms have been somewhat contaminated over the years by magic, and it’s difficult to get a good signal. You could use the fireplace in your study, but it generally works better if it’s somewhere that you’re familiar with.”
The route to the Gryffindor tower was much as Harry remembered it, though the tower itself had been burnt and blasted from various attacks. Most of the pictures were still in place, though, and the Fat Lady swung aside at a word from Professor McGonagall. “No password until the start of term,” she said.
There was a fire blazing in the grate. Harry rushed over to the fireplace, wondering how he would explain to Ginny about his new job.
“I’ll leave you, then, Potter,” said McGonagall. Her voice was slightly strained. “You must want to talk to… Molly.”
“Actually, it’s mostly…oh.” Harry turned to look, but McGonagall was gone. He turned back to the fire. He didn’t quite know how to initiate the spell that would link him to a fire at the Weasleys. He’d hoped that McGonagall would show him how. It was one of the spells that he would have learned in his final year – the year which he’d spent hunting Horcruxes and fighting Voldemort.
But suddenly the familiar features of Ginny Weasley formed in the coals, staring at him in delight. “Harry!” she said excitedly. “McGonagall sent an owl last night telling us you’d be calling. Mum made a fire this morning especially.”
“Ginny, there’s something I need to tell you,” said Harry hesitantly. He’d been looking forward to speaking to Ginny, but he didn’t know quite how to tell her his news.
“Er… there’s something I need to say first,” said Ginny.
“I really think that this is…” Harry began.
“This is actually…” said Ginny.
“I’m going back to Hogwarts,” they said in unison.
“What!” shouted Harry.
“Eh?” said Ginny. “Oh wow! That’s actually quite cool. We’ll both be in the same class.”
“Er… no,” said Harry. “I’m not coming back to finish school. I’m sort of the new Defence Against The Dark Arts Teacher.”
“What?” snapped Ginny. Her eyes glowed red. “Where did this come from? You have a job.”
“I know, but Kingsley said it was OK. It’s Dumbledore – he said that he wanted me.”
Ginny looked at him intently. “Dumbledore left a letter saying that he wanted you to teach at Hogwarts?” she asked.
“Well, in a way. He left a message in the Pensieve. It’s part of some…plan.”
Ginny sighed. “I’d really thought that we were over the whole ‘Dumbledore wants me to swim to Brazil’ thing.”
“No, but look, it’s good,” stammered Harry. “We’ll be together at Hogwarts, just like you said. Not in the same class, but…”
“Oh, Harry,” snapped Ginny, “it’s completely different. You can’t go out with one of the students if you’re a professor. That would never be allowed.”
“Oh. Oh, I see now why McGonagall was so weird about talking about you now. She didn’t want me to say that we were…”
“Boyfriend and girlfriend? No, but she must know. I suppose that she’s terrified that you’ll tell her that we’re an item and she’ll have to insist that we break up. If you don’t tell her, she doesn’t have to deal with it, and she’ll trust us to be discrete.”
Ginny paused. “You still have your invisibility cloak, don’t you?”
Harry thought for a moment, and was about to reply when the coals making up Ginny’s head suddenly fell apart, and the familiar features of Ron Weasley pushed their way up.
“Mate! Did you hear?” Ron sounded as excited, more excited than Harry had seen him since the day Fred had died. “Kingsley came to the house yesterday and told Dad that he wants me to join the Auror’s Department! Me – an Auror!”
“That’s brilliant, Ron,” said Harry sincerely. He was as pleased by Ron’s reaction as he was at the news.
“I’m going in to the office next week. I’ll travel with Dad. I can’t wait! I always thought Aurors were so cool. You know, when Mad-Eye was teaching us. Of course he turned out to be a Death Eater, not an Auror, but…”
Ron’s head burst apart, and Ginny reappeared in the flames. “…so rude, Ron. Harry, we have to be very careful what we say and do. You could be sacked if anyone realised. I could be expelled. Do you remember how Professor Lockhart was nearly in trouble, and all he was doing was talking to some of the older girls.”
Harry nodded agreement. “Maybe we can see each other at Quidditch. You’ll be captaining the team, I expect?”
Ginny nodded, and ash poured onto the hearth. “If asked. I wasn’t sure whether to go back really, but it was Quidditch that decided me. I really want to get as good as I can, and there’s this rumour… well, never mind, it’s not important.”
This sounded suspicious to Harry, but then a thought struck him. “Hang on, Ginny, what about your mum? She won’t have anyone at home now.”
Ginny suddenly appeared to be crying, though it was impossible to see tears on the glowing face. “Oh, Harry, she was so brave. It was when Kingsley came to ask Ron to be an Auror. You could tell that she wanted to ask him to stay at home, and then quite suddenly she was totally different. He was messing about saying he wasn’t sure if he could take the job, and she just insisted that he would. Then she said that I was going back to school to take my NEWTs. ‘I should never have let you stay out for a year, but you’re going to finish your education. I’ve been selfish.’ Imagine, Mum selfish! She said she’s spent enough time hiding away, and that we all had to start living again, for Fred.”
The right-hand side of Ron’s face popped up beside Ginny. “She said that Fred always lived his life to the full, and that now he’s gone, we have to do it for him. She’s going to see her old friends, and she might even get a job in the Muggle shop in the village.” Ron sounded as emotional as Harry had ever heard him.
“Your mum’s brilliant,” said Harry, “and she always was. Is she there?”
“She’s gone out for a walk,” said Ginny, pushing Ron so his stack of coals fell out the side of the grate. “She was a bit overwhelmed by herself.”
“Tell her I said…” Harry was suddenly overwhelmed himself by how much he wanted to say to Molly Weasley. “Tell her I’ll write her a letter.”
“It’ll be fun to get back,” said Ginny thoughtfully. “I even want to get my exams done, just to finish up everything. Ron, don’t you want to do your NEWTs?”
Ginny’s head rattled to pieces, and resolved into Ron’s.
“You must be kidding. OWLs nearly killed me. I have a job now, so why would I want to go back to school? You said exactly that to me last week, Harry, come to think of it. They didn’t offer me a teaching job, you know.”
Harry remembered now – the awkward conversation with Ron where he’d first suggested that Ron take his exams. He had indeed said almost exactly that – that he’d never do his exams now that he had the job he’d always wanted. Fair enough for Ron to feel the same way.
“Mate, look – I know I didn’t say, but it really got on my nerves when you had a job and I didn’t. I was thinking of asking Kingsley, but, you know…”
Harry grinned and nodded. “I know. Suppose he said no…”
“Or worse, suppose he was all like, well, in light of your services to the wizarding world, we’ll give you this job but we all know you can’t do it. That would have been bloody awful.” Ron shook his head and a piece of burning coal flew out onto the rug. Harry grabbed it with the tongs and set it on the hearth.
“Dad could have got me a job at the ministry, but honestly! Reviewing cauldron importation regulations like Percy! I’d sooner work in the Muggle shop like Mum.”
“Ron – is she really OK?” Harry couldn’t stop his voice from catching a little.
“Harry – she really is. It took time, you know? It took time for all of us.”
The three of them chatted for another hour. Ginny hardly mentioned her NEWT’s, concentrating on her plans for the Quidditch team. Ron pestered Harry with questions about working as an Auror. Harry mostly listened, wondering how he’d possibly cope with this new job.
“Oh, my goodness – Harry, we have to go,” said Ginny suddenly. “We promised to meet Mum in the village. We’ll have to apparate.”
“Yeah, see you, mate,” said Ron. Harry wished that Ron had gone a little earlier, to give him a bit of privacy with Ginny.
“Bye, then. Talk soon…”
The two faces sank back into the fire – but suddenly a new head appeared.
“Hermione? Where are you calling from?”
“Australia! We’re having a farewell barbecue in the back yard. It’s so difficult to get through, and then you were talking to someone else. Why are you in Hogwarts?”
Harry quickly explained. “Harry! That’s wonderful. I’ve a bit of news myself. I’m going back to Hogwarts too.”
“As a pupil? Or as a professor?”
Harry was sure that Hermione had the expression that appeared when she was pondering a problem, but her face in the fire wasn’t detailed enough to tell.
“Well, neither really. Or maybe sort of both. I decided that I wanted to take my NEWTs. It’s really important to have qualifications, you know. I asked Professor McGonagall and she said that I would easily pass my NEWTs with what I know now – well, I’m sure that’s not true, I’m very weak on transfiguration for one thing – but anyway, she asked if I would be willing to do some teaching and coaching for some of the pupils, and that I could take my NEWTs at the end of the year, and I would get paid as well, which would be quite nice.”
Harry had never thought about Hermione needing money. Her parents – both dentists – were well off in the Muggle world, but that didn’t translate into wizarding wealth. With Harry, it was just the opposite. He had had plenty of wizard money, but in the Muggle world he was desperately poor. The Dursleys had grudged him every penny. It suddenly occurred to him that if he’d arranged to change money with the Grangers they would both have benefited. He shrugged. There was so much he could have done differently, if he’d had time to stop and think about things.
“Harry? What do you think?”
“I think it’s really good. I kind of felt that we’d been taken away from Hogwarts without a chance to say goodbye.”
Hermione nodded. “That’s just how I felt. When the battle was over… I just wanted to get away. Back to my family, back with just a few friends. I hated seeing what happened to the building, the people… but now, it’s different. I miss it. I’d like to finish properly.”
“That’s really great, Hermione. You know I used to rely on you to get through everything…”
“Oh, rubbish, Harry. You could work when you wanted to. Now Ron…”
They were both smiling. “I’ll be asking you for help twice as much if we’re both teaching,” said Harry.
“What? I don’t know anything about teaching, Harry. You’re the leader. I’m just planning to do what you did with the Quidditch team and Dumbledore’s army. I just hope that I can do half as good a job.”
Harry stared at her. “If you think I can be a teacher, Hermione, then maybe it really is possible.”
“You are a teacher, Harry. Can I admit something embarrassing?”
Harry grinned. “I’d love you to.”
“I could never understand why I had the best marks in everything, but somehow you were better in Defence Against The Dark Arts. I used to go over and over the books and practice the spells, and I was honestly jealous of you.”
Harry remembered how Hermione had tried to conceal her frustration at the one exam where she’d failed to score an Outstanding.
“Since everything that happened – seeing you fighting and doing it… well, for real – I understood. I knew why you were so good. I remembered what I knew back in first year. Harry, you’re a great wizard, you know. You’ll be a great teacher. I’m looking forward to your classes.”
For a moment Harry couldn’t speak. He knew how talented Hermione was, and to have her respect was suddenly overwhelming.
He forced a laugh. “I’ll still need you to help me with the coursework. You always knew it better than the teachers anyway.”
Even through the haze of the burning coals, Harry could see the affection in the look she gave him. “I think we’ll look after each other, like we always do. Right, I’d better go. I want to spend as much time as I can with Mum and Dad before term starts. We’re coming home next week.”
“Bye then,” said Harry. He continued staring at the flames long after Hermione had disappeared.
Harry would have like to have spent the summer holidays at the Burrow, but realised that he would need some time learning about his new job. Professor McGonagall was diligent in explaining the duties of a Hogwarts teacher, but surprisingly, it was Professor Slughorn’s advice that was most helpful. “Teach ‘em what you know,” he said, slapping Harry on the back, “and if you don’t know it, leave it alone until you do. Bless you, none of us know everything we’re supposed to. If you’re one day ahead of the class then they think you’re God.” Slughorn was a far less scrupulous teacher than McGonagall, but his experience was invaluable.
“The stupid pupils will never be a problem,” he told Harry as they were sitting in his office, sipping firewhiskey as they sat in a pair of extremely comfortable matching armchairs. “The very clever ones will do the work themselves. The lazy ones will avoid catching your eye. The ones that cause the trouble are the curious ones – always asking you questions about something you don’t know.” He suddenly looked away, and Harry knew he’d reminded himself about the day when Tom Riddle had asked him about Horcruxes.
He turned back and forced a smile. “I used to rely on Miss Grainger in your class. Someone would ask a question that would have me stumped, and I’d say ‘Would anyone like to answer that?’. Nine times out of ten she’d come up with the goods. Find one like that and you’ll do all right.”
Harry shook his head. “I don’t think there are many like her, Professor.” Slughorn nodded in agreement.
McGonagall made sure Harry knew about all the various spells he would need to do the job. “Once you’re officially on the staff, you can grant or remove points simply by saying ‘five points to so-and-so’, or ‘ten points from this one’. We recommend that you allocate points sparingly at first. It’s a useful disciplinary tool but it has been abused in the past, and that tends to cause exactly the kind of bad feeling I want to end.”
Harry nodded at her. “I remember certain teachers who never took points from their own house, always from others.”
McGonagall looked at him over her spectacles. “Well, de mortuis nil nisi bonum, Professor.”
Harry stayed at Hogwarts for another three weeks. At times he thought he would manage without any trouble – and then he found the whole idea impossible. But at last there came a point where he felt confident – of at least standing in front of a class without making a fool of himself. He made his way to McGonagall’s office.
“Professor? I’d like to go back to the Burrow, if that’s all right. I have all the books and materials I need, and I’ll study them until the start of term. But…” He let the sentence hang. He didn’t want to say that he missed Ginny, and longed to see her again.
“That’s perfectly fine, professor,” said McGonagall, briskly. “I think you understand how it all works. It’s so much easier with former pupils, especially if they’ve only left a short while ago. We’ll arrange a train for tomorrow, if that suits you.”